When You See It, He Wins
It’s probably no secret I have been a student of Japanese culture, and one of the things that I like in addition to sumo is Kabuki. Much like sumo, it can be really moving, and completely WTF crazy at times. Like sumo, the actors assume stage names, in the case of Kabuki, some of them many generations old.
One element from Kabuki that even westerners can recognizes has the name “Mie” (pronounced mee-ah). You can read a nice write up on Wikipedia, but I will except here:
The mie pose (見え or 見得, mie, pronounced ‘mee-eh’), a powerful and emotional pose struck by an actor, who then freezes for a moment, is a distinctive element of aragoto Kabuki performance. Mie means ‘appearance’ or ‘visible’ in Japanese, and one of the primary purposes of this convention is to draw attention to a particularly important or powerful portion of the performance. It is meant to show a character’s emotions at their peak, and can often be a very powerful pose.
Kisenosato seems to have such a pose, and it’s becoming quite iconic. I first noticed him starting to do it a couple of years ago. When he pulls this thing out, his opponent is more or less finished. In that way I can relate it almost directly to when the great Michael Jordon would start sticking is tongue out as he drove for the goal. He was, at that moment, in his element. He was alone with his immense skill and no man and no force on the basketball court could stop him.
It would seem that this pose is analogous with Kisenosato. He is in his element, and the size and power of his opponent no longer matter. He is focused and connected to his goal. The rikishi he is defeating is simply an object the universe has given him to enhance his victory. This, to me, ties into my observations last basho that during the first week of the basho, Kisenosato seemed lost in his own thoughts, and the moment of tachiai sometimes did not even rouse his interest. It may have been that he finally overcame his mental obstacles and achieved focus.
If you go back and watch his winning matches, more often than not you see him assume this stance as he applies his winning move.